While some sceptics may have misgivings about the technology, cryptocurrency and blockchain has disrupted financial services and will probably be around for a lot longer.
This is the view of Heinrich Springhorn, business analyst at MobileData, who says: “There is some instability due to a hearing in Japan regarding a bitcoin exchange that was shut down due to suspected embezzlement. However, this does not take away from the potential of what cryptocurrency, and essentially the blockchain, can mean to transacting worldwide.”
This realisation can make a real difference for operations in Africa, he says. MobileData’s standpoint is that to apply this methodology in Africa and transact more freely, companies must be willing to participate in a decentralised model of transacting.
“One of the biggest set-backs at the moment is that there are only a small number of stock and service providers worldwide that accept cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, and it is still far away from becoming main stream,” Springhorn says.
“If a cryptocurrency should become mainstream, the potential exists that it could cause instability in financial enterprises. The reason for this is that the banking institutions will lose their locus of control over currencies and consumers will transact outside of their control.”
The decentralised nature of cryptocurrency means the reality facing markets is that there is no intermediary with the power to limit any fraud or embezzlement. “This means there is no way for the assets to be seized in these cases,” Springhorn explains.
The company’s assessment of the market is that for widespread adoption of this model to occur in Africa it will require a mechanism for on-the-fly exchanging of the cryptocurrency to a value of the fiat money. This is on the basis that services and stock providers do not accept cryptocurrencies as payment.
“If the service and stock providers do accept cryptocurrency as payment, then the transaction engine used will write an entry into the decentralised ledger and the transaction will go through the blockchain. In addition, there are socio-economic concerns with regards to cryptocurrency, as many end-users do not have access to the technology needed to transact with cryptocurrency,”Springhorn adds.